That is a great question. The answer: it depends, 6 months or more probably.
You probably were hoping for a more specific answer. Let me explain.
The gelatin and glycerin printing plate is made of 3 ingredients water, glycerin and gelatin. The water evaporates over time. You will notice that the plate will shrink and get less spongy.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. You will notice that the plate holds and transfers marks differently as it changes.
So to slow down the evaporation of the water, I cover the plate with a plastic chopping mat.
It is possible to refresh the plate, by melting it down and adding water back into it. I find that this works for a couple of times and then the plate gets too sticky or fragile. That is when I make a new plate.
You may ask, then why bother with making the plate if it does not last forever.
- Well I like the way it holds and transfers ink.
- I like the way the marks change as the plate changes.
- And it is non-toxic and easy for me to work with.
For example, in the print below the white dots create an interesting texture and that is due to the changing printing plate. Tiny holes developed in the plate and caused the interesting texture.
I would say that I have had gelatin plates last for about 9 months to a year. Some of my students have kept them for even longer. I think it depends on several factors:
- weather, heat and humidity
- how often you use the plate, (more is better)
- how you store it
If you are interested in exploring gelatin printmaking with the homemade glycerin and gelatin plate, then you are in luck.
Make Monotypes starts January 8, 2018 and you can get the Early Bird Discount and save $40. Read the details on the printmaking workshop page and join us today.